For the Love of a Wyoming Library

Apr 16, 2016

Many of us have a favorite library memory. Over on the Writing Wyoming blog, they collected writers’ library stories for National Library Week. On this last day of this national celebration we are, with permission, sharing the ones about Wyoming libraries.

For the Love of a Library
by Lynn Carlson:

lusk libraryAt the corner of 5th and Main, in Lusk, Wyoming, sits the Niobrara County Library. It was built in 1919 with the help of funds from Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-born philanthropist. My paternal grandmother, Nellie Snyder Griffith, was one of the women who pushed for the project. When women like that decide to do something, you can bet it gets done.

When I was a little girl, I lived across the street from this big brick building and I didn’t know or care about any of its history. What I cared about was that I could cross over 5th street with my two sisters—looking both ways, of course—and climb up the big semicircle of stairs.

I could push open the giant door and enter a warm-in-winter and cool-in-summer space that smelled like ink, leather and furniture polish.

At the Niobrara County Library on Wyoming Snapshot Day 2015.

At the Niobrara County Library on Wyoming Snapshot Day 2015.

I could disappear into the stacks, squat down next to the shelves in the children’s section and run my finger along the spines of books until one of them said, “Me—pick me!” Books with names like Ozma of Oz, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Hidden Staircase and The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking.

I could stretch out on my belly on the floor and look at books with photographs of chimpanzees, metal bridges or amoebas.

I could be quiet and sit in a corner and run my fingers over the smooth pages of magazines.

Best of all, I could select a book and slide it over the tall wooden desk to Mrs. Tyrrel and she would thunk a stamp on the inside of the front cover. Then I could hug my treasure to my chest and go back home and tuck myself inside a new world.


Growing Up There Were Three Libraries in My Life
by Tom Spence:

Albany County Public Library, Laramie. Now the City of Laramie Office Annex. Built 1905.

Albany County Public Library’s old Carnegie library in Laramie, built in 1905. Now used as the City of Laramie Office Annex.

The first was the “bookmobile,” a library in a van which periodically visited Mountain View School on the western boundary of Fort Collins, Colorado. There I chose books deemed by the itinerant librarian/van driver, to be too “old” for me. She was probably right, but the books for my age were too simple, and illustrated. I believed words without pictures made me a serious reader.

Later, I prowled the stacks of the Laramie (Wyoming) High School library hoping to meet the girl I wished for a girlfriend, and as a ruse I looked at random titles and did obligatory research.

The third library was the Carnegie Public Library, if memory serves, on Grand Avenue and 5th Street. I did not expect to meet a girlfriend there, so I did my homework, and looked into the magazines: Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, Popular Science. There, after football or wrestling practice, I waited for my father to come from work at the cement plant to drive us home to the country. My sister would have dinner on the table.

My true appreciation of libraries came later, slowly, when I realized that the collection and collation of words, kept in a building, under a roof, and available, was an everyday wonder. And now I fall in love with every librarian who keeps and catalogs, guards and promotes the various manifestations of our printed language, and our right to use it.


Libraries: All life long
by Deborah Nielsen

Today's Laramie County Library System central library in Cheyenne.

Today’s Laramie County Library System central library in Cheyenne.

When I was a kid, I spent a great deal of my free time at the East Branch of the Carnegie Library in Cheyenne. It was located on the south side of Cole Shopping Center. That little library was one of my favorite places. When I was very young, Mom would take me to story times and I would sit on the floor with other kids enraptured by the story and the pictures. Afterwards, I’d have to check out some books. When I was old enough to get there on my own, either by walking or bicycling, I’d check out a pile of books and then struggle to pack them all home. During the summer, I would take part in the summer reading competition. (As an adult, I still do that.)

The East Branch closed in 1969 when the new Laramie County Library was opened at 2800 Central Avenue. I was sad to see my favorite library close but came to like the new library just as much or more. I was a regular patron from the time it opened until it was closed in 2007.

Our new, award-winning library building was opened at 2200 Pioneer Avenue in the fall of 2007. Its exterior walls are windows. I love the light and airy feeling they give the building. In addition to the books, the new library has a coffee shop where I get an occasional cup of tea; meeting rooms where I’ve gotten together with fellow writers; and the large Cottonwood Room, which is used for cultural events such as book readings and signings by popular authors, writing classes, the annual RSVP program, and concerts, among other things.

In the stacks in the Cheyenne library.

In the stacks in the Cheyenne library.

I can’t tell you how much money the library has saved me over the years. I’ve read many best-sellers for free instead of having to buy them. I’ve had access to research books that I wouldn’t have been able to obtain otherwise. And I’ve enjoyed many activities that probably wouldn’t have been available had it not been for the Laramie County Library’s staff.

The library has given me so much over my life that a few years ago I decided to give back and volunteer to help out with some of the events that the library puts on. I’ve enjoyed working with some of the library staff, various local authors and the public.

We are very lucky here in Laramie County. We’ve had an excellent library for many years. It’s been supported by the county commissioners who provide the funding and by the community who authorize the taxes that keep it running and provide for new buildings when necessary. Libraries are a valuable resource. Support your local library. Be a patron. Be a volunteer. Explore the stacks and find a good book to read.

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